What is on the horizon?

DQW Bureau
New Update


Even in the current times, where

budgets are under increased scrutiny due to the economic situation, the storage

industry is not standing still. New technologies are constantly developed, and

companies need to decide which technologies will be of benefit to them in the

long run.

What's hot today?

In the current economic climate, storage managers are particularly

interested in expanding storage capacity as data continues to grow unabated,

enhancing disaster recovery plans, and improving storage performance to service

the business users better, according to IDC's 2009 Annual European storage

survey ('Understanding user needs in a changing economic climate').


However, these initiatives typically increase the operational

cost of the storage infrastructure. Adding storage capacity to cope with data

growth is a very short-term strategy, which will lead to complexity and

management nightmares, and ultimately, higher operational cost. Achieving a

viable disaster recovery plan can also turn into a costly undertaking, if not

well thought through. Finally, improving storage performance is often achieved

through methods that result in low utilization rates. This, in turn, drives the

storage capacity expansion and operational costs higher.

With the above in mind, it should not be surprising that the

current hot storage technologies enable users to achieve what they aim for, but

at the same time enable them to reduce operational cost and increase storage

efficiency. The timing couldn't be better, since it has become clear that

storage is reaching a new phase of maturity. This new phase is one where storage

resources need to be used as efficiently as possible, and where old strategies

of just increasing capacity without addressing operational cost or

underutilization of storage are no longer viable. This is even true for those

that have put such efficiencies aside to achieve increased performance. There

are a multitude of technologies out there, which help to tame data growth and

support, solving the storage efficiency challenge. Data de-duplication, for

example, has been the hot topic of the summer, as it helps to buck with the data

growth trend. But this is hardly the only new and exciting storage technology

addressing the industries new problems. Other technologies like thin

provisioning and storage virtualization provide greater storage utilization and

cost-efficient DR (respectively) are also in high demand. Storage management

software is seeing increased interest because it enables users to manage across

storage silos, whereas archiving is seen as a means to reduce primary data by

off-loading to an archive.

Tomorrow's storage strategies

Cloud storage is shaping up as the future architecture for storage

deployment, and storage-as-a-service is the first step in this direction. Cloud

storage is essentially a way of planning and designing storage infrastructure by

using standard building blocks, in which management is automated to a large

degree and efficiency is paramount.


File-based technologies like file virtualization will see

increased demand as well, as most of the data growth comes from the unstructured

side. The before mentioned survey has shown for several years in a row, that

e-mail and file-related applications are driving data and storage growth.

SSD is a technology much talked about, but still with very

limited adoption, as it is currently more than 10-times more expensive than

traditional disk storage. As storage administrators are evaluating this

technology, they need to keep in mind that it is just a point solution, which

actually emphasizes the need for intelligent storage tiering.

With another storage tier available (tier-0) at a high cost,

storage administrators will not be able to resort to the good old 'keep

everything on primary storage' approach. By having a robust software layer in

place to manage storage tiering, ILM can finally be implemented and its benefits

(lower cost and better data management) can be achieved.

Be prepared for the future

In order to architect a future-proof storage environment, good old

management principles still apply. Consolidate and standardize your storage

infrastructure, deploy storage virtualization software for cost effective DR and

invest in a solid storage management layer to simplify and automate management.

Thus, you can take advantage of new innovative technologies, which most likely

will be point solutions to start with, and maintain a solid management layer.

Carla Arend

European Infrastructure SoftwarE, IDC Group